On Thursday, President Joe Biden announced that WNBA star Brittney Griner will be returning to American soil after being detained overseas in Russia for nine months.
“Good morning folks, and it is a good morning,” Biden began in a press conference, accompanied by Vice President Kamala Harris and Brittney Griner’s wife, Cherelle. “Moments ago, standing together with her wife Cherelle in the Oval Office, I spoke with Brittney Griner. She’s safe, she’s on a plane, she’s on her way home after months of being unjustly detained in Russia, held under intolerable circumstances.”
“Brittney will soon be back in the arms of her loved ones, and she should’ve been there all along,” the President continued. “This is a day we’ve worked toward for a long time. We never stopped pushing for her release. It took painstaking and intense negotiations, and I wanna thank all the hardworking public servants across my administration who worked tirelessly to secure her release.”
The basketball player was initially arrested in a Moscow airport after traces of marijuana were found in her luggage. Following her trial, she was sentenced to a maximum allowed sentence of 10 years. This verdict was one her lawyers believed to be unacceptable, and they worked diligently to negotiate a new sentence.
However, in a final attempt to bring her back to the United States, the Biden administration negotiated a one-for-one prisoner swap for international arms dealer Viktor Bout. After prolonged agony, Cherelle Griner was overjoyed to have her wife return to the States.
Cherelle Griner is ‘overwhelmed with emotions’ as she is reunited with her wife Brittney
“So over the last nine months, you all have been so privy to one of the darkest moments of my life, and so today I am just standing here overwhelmed with emotions, but the most important emotion I have right now is just sincere gratitude for President Biden and his entire administration,” said Cherelle.
Yet, Griner’s wife also took note that not all families can be as happy as hers: Citing Paul Whelan, another United States citizen detained overseas in Russia who remains in jail, she lent her sympathies to his family. She relayed the sentiments, “Today my family is whole, but as you all are aware, there’s so many other families who aren’t whole.”
“Thank you everybody for your support, and today’s just a happy day for me and my family, so I’m gonna smile right now,” Cherelle then added. “Thank you.”
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